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Duck, Duck, Loose: False Start Can't Stop Fun At Westport's Great Duck Race

Nearly 3,000 rubber ducks take the plunge into the river in Westport. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The ducks are ready to race on Saturday in the Saugatuck to benefit the Westport Sunrise Rotary. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Organizers get ready to dump nearly 3,000 rubber ducks into the Saugatuck River. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Sunny the Duck is floating upright under sunny skies on the day of the Great Duck Race in Westport. Sunny is the mascot. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe welcoming visitors to the Great Duck Race. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The Great Duck Race is underway. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs

WESTPORT, Conn. — It was ready, set — but not quite go as the Westport Sunrise Rotary dumped nearly 3,000 rubber duckies into the Saugatuck River in downtown Westport on Saturday for the annual Great Duck Race.

The charity race began shortly after noon, after the fitful start when a few of the ducks slipped under the containment booms in a false start.

The errant ducks were retrieved and placed back inside the booms. And after the restart, a strong breeze blew the ducks against the booms on the west side the river, and the outflowing tide drove them toward the finish line just above the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

And Sunny the Duck, the race’s 23-foot-tall inflatable mascot, reappeared — sitting up tall — after spending much of the previous week bobbing on her side on rainy and windy days.

A large crowd, including a host of young parents and their children, gathered at Parker Harding Plaza for the family event.

Sunrise Rotary hosts the race to raise funds it donates to more than 30 nonprofit organizations in Westport, nearby communities, and around the world.

On a nearly ideal day youngsters got their faces painted, painted a small car, built small cars for the Maker Faire’s Nerdy Derby, jumped around in the Bouncy Castle, climbed on the Fire Department’s historic engine, and learned to shoot small marshmallows through DIY plastic blow guns.

Westporter Bill Pasqua owned the winning duck’s ticket and took home a $5,000 Visa Gift Card, courtesy of Patriot Bank, and Sunrise club member Cheryl Eldh’s duck won her the $1,000 second place Visa Gift Card. The next eight ducks yielded Visa Gift Cards of $500 each to their ticket holders.

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